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This week’s letter from Israel – November 3, 2023

My dearest friends,

Thanks for your wishes for Ariel’s complete and speedy recovery. Your expressions of care are very much appreciated. I’m delighted to advise that Ariel’s recovery is continuing.

What a roller-coaster week this has been.

Israel began her ground offensive aimed at destroying the Hamas terror machine and creating the conditions to secure the release of the 240 men, women and children currently being held hostage in Gaza. Missiles fired from Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen continue to rain down on population centers in Israel. Most of the missiles are successfully intercepted by Israel’s air defense system, however, we remain exposed to the risk of serious injury from falling debris.

So many of our young men and women including our children, grandchildren and their spouses are risking their lives to secure our borders and make our lives safer. The anxiety and the tension refuse to let up. One of our grandsons serves in an elite combat unit. His unit suffered a significant number of casualties from an anti-tank missile fired at their troop carrier. We have reason to believe our grandson is safe because his name wasn’t included on the list of fatalities issued by the army.

Yes folks. Times are tough. Our neighborhood is rough. But we will prevail. We have no choice.

Over the years, Israel has done her utmost to fulfil its mission of being a light unto the nations. Israel is currently ranked 93rd in the world in terms of population size. Her population is less than 10 million souls – around 0.1% of the world’s population. Her resources are limited. Yet, Israel provides generous aid to countries around the world hit by natural disasters. Israel has shared its water and solar energy technologies with many third world countries and would love to do the same to enhance the quality of life for the people of Gaza and the Palestinian Authority.

During the Syrian Civil War, Israel treated more than 4,000 Syrians in civilian hospitals in Israel at the expense of the Israeli taxpayer. Strange as it may seem, thousands of Gazans are treated at medical centers in Israel. This needs to be seen in the context of Israel being at war with both Syria and the Palestinian Authority including Hamas.

But where has all this got us?

Some years ago, a young woman from Gaza was granted a multi-entry permit to receive care in Israel for burns caused by a home gas explosion. On one of her trips, she was stopped at a Gaza border checkpoint with 10 kilograms of explosives hidden in her underwear. Under interrogation, she admitted her aim was to blow herself up in the hospital and “kill between 20 and 50 Jews”.

In a separate incident, a Red Crescent Ambulance was stopped at a checkpoint and searched. The search revealed that explosive materials were hidden under a gurney carrying a sick child. Following this occurrence, the International Red Cross reiterated Israel’s right to examine such vehicles as long as this check did not unduly delay the patient’s passage.

I suppose this makes us indebted to the Red Cross. The same Red Cross hasn’t yet provided the Israeli government with a list of those taken hostage in Gaza, let alone visit them to ensure they are being cared for in accordance with the Geneva Convention. Needless to say, none of this concerns the international media or any of the ivy-league universities.

Isn’t it ironic that 85-year-old peace activist, Oded Lifshitz, who voluntarily drove Gazans from border crossings to hospitals in Israel for life-saving medical treatment, is amongst the hostages being held in Gaza by Hamas?

The eruption of anti-Semitism around the world is horrific. My parents assured me anti-Semitism was history. They thought they’d seen it all. I can’t believe it. Why is it that only Jewish places of worship, schools and institutions around the world require sophisticated security systems to protect their dwindling communities?

Academic freedom is dead. Differences of opinion are not tolerated. Emotive rhetoric – anti-Semitism, apartheid, freedom and pluralism – has been rebranded and now mean something else. Greta Thunberg’s anti-Israel and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories make me wonder whether climate change is nothing more than a trendy phrase to milk a huge market opportunity or a Nobel prize.

It’s an insult to the citizens of this world that around 80% of the UN General Assembly target Israel. Does this mean that if Hamas achieves its goal of wiping Israel off the face of the earth, 80% of the world’s problems would be solved?

Who’s accountable for this breakdown in values?

I’m sure you are shocked by the footage from Gaza. But this has to be seen in the context of the carnage and genocide perpetrated by Hamas on October 7.

In the words of the American song-writer, Billy Joel:

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning

Since the world’s been turning

We didn’t start the fire

No, we didn’t light it

But we’re trying to fight it

Friends, the fight will continue. It will continue until the light drives out the darkness. Until love and tolerance triumph over hatred and fanaticism. Until the good crushes the forces of evil.

By the way, the next time you see a zombie running through the streets yelling “Free Gaza”, please tell him that’s exactly what Israel’s doing and that we appreciate his support.

My condolences to those mourning their nearest and dearest. My wishes for a complete and speedy recovery to the injured. May God protect our brave soldiers.

Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom and better times ahead.

Am Yisrael Chai.

Harris Zvi Green.

About the Author
Harris Zvi Green was born in Cape Town, South Africa. He made Aliyah 53 years ago. An accountant by profession, he served as the Chief Financial Officer for a number of Israel based hi-tech companies. He is married to Phyllis. They have 3 married children, 13 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren. Harris Zvi Green is a founder member of Truth be Told, an organization engaged in public diplomacy on behalf of Israel.
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